Wednesday, December 4, 2019

THE ILLUSIONISTS - MAGIC OF THE HOLIDAYS



There is magic in art and art in magic!  
The Illusionists- Magic of the Holidays  brings both to the National Theater for that magical time of Christmas with  amazing acts of illusions, close-up magic, mentalism, daring escapes, and technological spectacle. 
Dizzy Partridge is “The Trickster” who  combine  magic, physical comedy, and theatrical thievery with mischievous British charm.
Over the last 20 years, “The Showman” Steve Valentine has appeared in over 250 hours of TV and film, as he  constantly changes and morphs into a myriad of wild, quirky, funny, dangerous, and always unique characters.
Valentin Azema is “The Elusive”  delivers a one-of-a-kind experience of wonder and mystery with a French touch and a dash of humor.
British escape artist Jonathan Goodwin is  “The Daredevil.” Goodwin has been hanged, buried alive, hung by his toes from helicopters, burned at the stake, attacked by sharks, bitten by rattlesnakes, dodged arrows, and climbed under moving cars.
“The Delusionist” is Stuart MacLeod, a Scottish BAFTA nominee, who has created some of the most controversial magic on television, played to sell-out crowds all over the world and racked up over 100 million views on YouTube.
From France is Florian Sainvet, “The Manipulator,” began his career in magic at the age of sixteen, but it was while devouring his favorite science fiction films and universes at his beloved neighborhood cinema. 
“The Transformationalists” Sos & Victoria combine fashion, stagecraft, and sleight-of-hand in a dazzling display of a flick of the wrists, a twist, and a twirl that  transmutes their apparel into looks for any occasion.
Kudos to the wonderful Magician assistants: April Anneberg, Manon Chaney, Rob Coglitore, and Todd Hampton.   
And  of course, to the audience members who participated in the magic illusions!  
Each one of these international stars would be a treat to view for an evening.  Together they make up “ The Greatest Magic Show in the Universe.”  
At the National Theater until  Dec. 8, 2019.

Monday, November 18, 2019

HARD TIMES 
Take a break from the seasonal ritual of  A Christmas Carol  to  enjoy another Dickens’ classic.  Hard Times, at Washington Stage Guild, is truly a show for this season.  
One of Dickens shortest books is nevertheless filled with dozens of characters. This adaption for the stage by Stephen Jeffreys requires no less than19!  Switching roles in split seconds, Steven Carpenter, Brit Herring, Chelsea Mayo and Sue Struve,  each take on four or five, giving life to Dickens’ wide range of humanity.
Brit Herring is Mr. Gradgrind, whose builds his life around facts. He will also play his manipulative son Tom who will rebel against all this by drinking and thieving.  Chelsea Mayo’s most important role is as his lovely daughter Louisa whose emotions are suppressed by his emphasis that facts alone are what to base one’s life on. She will be married off to Mr. Bounderby, played by Steven Carpenter, who will also play the James Harthouse who will try to persuade Louisa to run off with him.  The two roles are seemingly as opposite as they can be on the surface:  Bounderby the bragging successful owner of all the factories and the bank in Coletown, and Harthouse, with the attention deficit wandering con man equally a braggart. 
 Sue Struve also takes on contrasting roles. She is Sissy Jupe, who enters the Gradgrind home when her father, a circus entertainer disappears.  She will become Louisa’s best friend and in many ways, while she could not get through with Mr. Gradgrind’s school of facts and figures, she will be the one who figures out how to resolve many of the issues. She will also play the spiteful Mrs. Sparsit, who has Mr. Bounderby’s permanent house guest will do what she can to destroy Louisa.
Christmas Carol is so focused on gift giving and presented as a time for wonderful holiday meal with one’s loving  family, while Hard Times has themes of facts versus emotions, capital versus labor,  the circus life versus factories.  This is to say nothing of complex family relationships and the more grueling aspects of poverty, which are  issues as real today as when it was written in the Industrial age in Britain circa 1850.  
Like Christmas Carol, which is grouped around three Ghosts (Past, Present and Future),  Hard Times has three acts: Sowing, Reaping and Garnering.  No evil goes unpunished in Dickens as the summary of what happens to each of the characters five years after the ending, ending,isis made clear in the final speeches.  While it won’t be the happy outcome of Christmas Carol, Hard Times’  biblical message that as a man sows, so shall he reap, it is as important one, presented as Dickens and Washington Stage Guild traditionally does, in a most entertaining way.
(WASHINGTON STAGE GUILD until Dec. 8, 2019)

Photo entitled Old Hell Shaft: Brit Herring as Blackpool. In background L-R Sue Struve, Steven Carpenter, Chelsea Mayo. Photo by C. Stanley Photography

Thursday, November 14, 2019

AMADEUS

            Antonio Salieri (Ian Merrill Peakes) pleads with God 
Theaters are known to have ghosts. I saw one last night at  the Folger Theater.  It was Antonio Salieri,  in the starring role of Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus
As in his life, he played the bitter court composer at odds with the brilliant Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  Once again, as in his life, he is not given credit as he always felt was his proper due for the program notes credit Ian Merrill Peakes as Salieri.
In Amadeus, Salieri is a ghostly figure who in his last hours before dying re-lives the story about how he is responsible for Mozart’s death.  Peakes is more than superb as the 18th century Viennese court composer whose rivalry with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is the stuff of this all consuming bitterness. Indeed Peakes is a strong actor for sure, but it is truly Salieri who takes over the stage in angry moments when he rages at God for placing  musical genius in a person such as the silly Mozart.
As the giddy Mozart,  Samuel Adams is also splendid—so alive, vibrant, fun —until his end when he isn’t of course.  Peakes and Adams are in sync in portraying these two who are opposite in every way from their manners to their music.
The staging was perfect.  What better way to set the tone for a drama about composers then place it in the inners of a giant musical instrument.  The strings that stretched to the height of the stage created perfect paths for the cast:  Justin Adams, Louis Butelli, Lilli Hokama, John Taylor Phillips, and Deidra LaWan Starnes to weave in and out of the scenes.
The story behind Amadeus  is suppose to be fictious.  An evening at this remarkable performance by Peakes and company—and with those solo moments by Salieri acting as himself— totally convinced me that it is all true.
Folger’s production of Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus.  Performances will run through December 22.
CREDITS: Photography by C. Stanley Photography


Monday, November 4, 2019

MANON  
Live at the Met
Young and vibrant,  the innocent country girl Manon will end worn out by her frivolous life, regretting her choice of pleasure over true love as she dies in desolate spot outside of prison.
From the opera’s first aria,  I expected that  soprano Lisette Oropesa was too cheerful to carry that role to such a bitter end.  But her skill as an actress and her talent— with a range not just vocally but of human continuum of experience— delivered an unforgettable performance.
Tenor Michael Fabiano is her lover, Chevalier des Grieux. Intense and troubled, he tries to escape his heartbreak of Manon’s loss in a monastery, only to rebound as her gambling companion, and to follow her to a painful end.
Polish baritone Artur Ruciński is her cousin Lescaut,  who goes along for the exhilarating ride of a gambler through life.
Maurizio Benini conducting Massenet’s sensual score, which lingers in the ears of memory long after  The Live at the Met performance of October 26 was over.
An experience to cherish! 
THE LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS
at Constellation Theatre Company
The Constellation’s sell out production has now been extended until Nov 24, 2019.  It has all the ingredients for a cult favorite that could pack the theater for ages.  
Everyone knows something about that man eating plant in a florist shop on Skid Row but to see this production is to see it come to life — very up close to the audience.
As endearing as Seymour, the flower shop assistant who creates an exotic plant, by scene-stealer Christian Montgomery …
or as lovely as Teresa Quigley Danskey as his dream girl warm-hearted coworker Audrey…
or as fun as the three girl singers/ sassy street urchins: Selena Clyne-Galindo as Chiffon , Alana S. Thomas as Ronnette,  Chani Wereley as Crystal…
or as dynamic as  Scott Ward Abernethy who is Audrey’s boyfriend Orin, a dentist who tortures his patients (as well as taking on four other roles)…
or as sentimental as Robert John Biedermann as Mushnik, the flower shop’s ornery owner,
or even as pitiable as the derelict played by several cast members
NEVERTHELESS I retain my sentimental attachment to Audrey II,
who comes to life with  Marty Austin Lamar’s soulful, commanding voice and puppeteer Rj Pavel’s movement to the plant’s physical form.
Audrey II does not dance or sing, she only complains until she gets her dietary requirement  human blood which will include the whole cast before it is over.
How big will she grow?  Will she end up (horrors!) consuming all humanity? What does this old show foretell about greed and ecological concerns in the future? 
Who knows the possibilities of interpretations for greater meanings.  For now this is one fun show to be glad that it is still alive.
THE GREEN ROOM



How will four Generation Z friends make it from a small college theatre department’s  "green room” to the Off-Broadway stage? 
The Green Room spans three years of college life, in which four actors explore all the complications from looking for love to last-minute cramming for final exams.
They are young, vibrant, aspiring—still green— like the room.  
Director Jessica Jennings  guides them through this complicated journey to success as  Rod Damer and C. Stephen Foster’s book comes to life on stage.  
The magic ingredient is music. Charles Pelletier’s rocking pop score and lyrics, with David Fletcher’s skilled musical direction, give the cast much to sing about.
Ariana Valdes is Divonne, “the Diva.”  In one of the show’s most unforgettable moments, her rendition of “It’s All About Me” sums up great diva moments from musicals and movies. The song won a Songwriter’s Guild of America award. 
Corbin Williams as John (the Jock) and Sami Staitman as Anna (the Princess) are a couple.  Their duets transform the room and transport the audience back to their own college romance.  At the start of the show, John flexes his bourgeoning adult masculinity, seeking to overpower Anna, who shows her doubt in “What Do I Think of Me.” At the end of the show, Anna discovers her adulthood and experiences her freedom in “I Wanna Go To Extremes.”   
Eli LaCroix plays Anna’s brother, Cliff (the Nerd). His razor-sharp delivery and dynamic vocals bring a touching counterpoint to Divonne’s powerful sensuality. 
One song had special relevance when all four, approaching graduation day, have to make decisions of what next. “In The End” directly hits the mark of the choice these four must make:  to follow their dreams of the big stage — or to go in to the business world their parents wish them to.  
Of all the fun and frolics, one young audience member zeroed in on this one, as relating  exactly to her situation in wanting to pursue a career in the arts, while her parents aspire for her to take a traditional professional path. 
This is the joy of live theater  - to experience a moment which is both shared and personal.
The Green Room — a show to enjoy — with music and a message to take with you.


The American Theatre of Actors - Sargent Theatre  - New York, NY, 314 W. 54th Street (Sept. 25 to Oct. 27, 2019)
EVERYBODY 
A 15th century play about Death might be the livest show around.  Playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins brings the medieval morality play up front and center for all to look squarely at the most shared and puzzling human question.
Death is portrayed by the irresistible Nancy Robinette, who carries out her mission directed by God, played by Yonatan Gebeyehu (who also doubles as Usher, who “ushers the audience” in to the story as God ushers us into and out of life.) He also plays Understanding!
There is nothing unique to think of life and death as a lottery.
And while death is mysterious, so is who of five fantastic actors or Somebodies are going to play the single role (thought of as Everyman).   Alina Collins Maldonado, Avi Rogue, Kelli Simpkins, Ayana Workman, and Elan Zafir all participate in God’s lottery to see what roles they will take for that performance.  No two shows will be alike, just as no death is like any others.  
While this is impressive since each actor must know the whole script, I could not help but wonder midway through, “What if that one who is Friendship would play the Somebody now facing death?”  This added insight—to put your self in another’s role in life—is one of the many hidden in plain sight messages.
Since death comes to all, the stage is appropriately presented as any time through lightening and the simplest of props. Balloons are created by our breathe, and will eventually lose their air—a most appropriate symbol for our life and death. Colors and music are metaphors for moods. 
While the lottery picks who will be the Somebody of the Day, there are several roles that do not change, such as Ahmad Kamal as Love who accompanies Somebody to the end.  Clare Carys O’Connell  plays both a young girl and Time.  She and Death will walk off together from the stage clouded  with white balloons and strewn with skeletons.  
Everybody won’t answer the big question it poses, but it provides realizations  to consider about our end while enjoying some laughs along the way. 
Most fittingly, I saw this on Nov. 2, also known as All Souls’ Day.
At THE SHAKESPEARE THEATRE COMPANY 

Sunday, October 13, 2019

CANDIDA at WASHINGTON STAGE GUILD

Where else but in a play by George Bernard Shaw could extreme arguments  both about the nature of human love and on  politics (socialism vs capitalism) occur in a peaceful Victorian study of a minister and his wife.  And where else to see this play filled with wisdom and wit,  then as Washington Stage Guild opens the season with GBS’s Candida.
Emelie Faith Thompson stars as Candida, the lovely wife of Rev. James Morell, played by her real life husband Nathan Whitmer.  He is a socialist Anglican clergyman who spars off against Eugene Marchbanks, the son of a peer and Mr. Burgess, Candida’s father.  Ben Ribler spares nothing in intensity in argument as the youthful poet in love with Candida while David Bryan Jackson Candida’s father representing capitalism goes at Morell in a nipping way.
There is mystery in all of this—who will ultimately hold  Candida’s heart as she sorts through all the moments of intense anger and poetic musings.  (No surprise that in the end that Rev. Morell’s secretary played by Danielle Scott and his curate by  Danny Beason will exit as a pair.)
A rare showing of  this Shaw play  now at Washington Stage Guild until Oct. 20, 2019.
Jimmy Buffett’s Escape to Margaritaville
When you want to get away but can’t just hop off to the islands at the moment — then Jimmy Buffett’s Escape to Margaritaville  road touring company might be just the ticket!
Sarah Hinrichsen is Rachel, a too serious scientist, and  Shelly Lynn Walsh, her best friend Tammy.  Together they head off to take a break before  Tammy’s wedding in Cincinatti, Ohio to a total jerk.  There they meet Chris Clark who stars as Tully,  a singer in a run down hotel in the Caribbean, and Peter Michael Jordan, who plays Brick the bartender. 
 Rachel Lyn Fobbs is Marley the owner of the bar, Patrick Cogan is J.D. a one eyed beach bum  and Matthew James Sherrod is Jamal, the busboy.  
What Rachel and Tammy find is not exactly what the pictures looked like on the internet, but something better.  True love!
This juke box musical featuring both original songs and your most-loved Jimmy Buffett classics, including “Fins,” “Volcano,” “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” and many more is packed with fun.  And as fine as these leading cast members are, the ensemble dance pieces are absolutely the best.  This is one show that did not have to ask for the audience to participate —everyone fell right in to the rhythm and responses.   

At the National Theatre from October 8-13, 2019.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019


LIFE IS A DREAM at
GALA Hispanic Theatre 

A gem of the Spanish Golden Age,  Pedro Calderón de la Barca’s  Life is a Dream is a gift for all the ages.  Now at GALA Hispanic Theatre, this world premiere adaptation by Nando López and  directed by Hugo Medrano is a rare  theatrical treasure opening  the 2019-20 season.
The story of Segismundo, a prince heir imprisoned by his father King Basilio to prevent the fulfillment of a prophecy might start out like one a familar fairy tale.  What ensues in this thought provoking play, is the stuff that great playwrights and poets and philosophers have grappled with on the power of tryranny, fate and free will in human existence. 
Daniel Alonso de Santos as Segismundo  confronts the dilemma of his experiences as whether they be dreams or reality or some experience that is a mix of both.
Timothy Andrés Pabon is King Basilio who struggles as a father who fears his son will overtake his throne.
Soraya Padrao as Rosario presents duality.  Disguised as a man, she bears a sword. As a woman who has been wronged, she seeks a powerful ruler to restore her honor. 
Also appearing in Life is a Dream are GALA company members 
Delbis Cardona (Clarin),  Peter Pereyra (Astolfo),  Catherine Nunez (Estrella),  Camilo Linares (Soldado), and  Timothy Leo Delgado (Soldado). 

INFORMATION 
Life is a Dream at GALA THEATRE until October 13, 2019
202- 234-7174 or visit www.galatheatre.org. 

PHOTO CREDIT;  Daniel Alonso de Santos and Soraya Padrao,
Photo Stan Weinstein



LOVE SICK at THEATRE J

Love Sick  is not unlike a folktale,  re-told in poetic language from the Bible, with singing and dancing most operatic. 
Tirzah is an amazing character who tells her story to a group of street characters of how she craved love, found it, and gave all to never let it go.  Not only does Ofra Daniel create Tirzah in this stage role, but she first created her as a writer and composer.   Her acting is intense, her dancing mesmerizing.  The character she brings to the stage, unforgettable. 
 Sasha Olinick is   Tirzah’s husband, a fish monger, sung with poignancy.  Fulfilling many role are four women: Sarah Corey, Sarah Laughland, Kara-Tameika Watkins and Kanysha Williams.
 Ali Paris is The Lover, Music Director and plays the Qanun (a rare Middle-Eastern 76-string zitther dating from the 14th century).  His fellow musicians  include:  on violin Jason Lobrador, John Tayler Garner, on Guitar Critian Perez,  Duff Davis, on bass Benjamin Rikhoff, and woodwinds Mila Weiss.  All together they give a rousing  musical concert that is a fusion of Middle Easter and Western styles.

A profound story in a unique production perfectly executed,   Love Sick is one show not to miss. (to Sept. 29)










Monday, September 9, 2019


1 HENRY IV at the FOLGER THEATRE
The latest Falstaff now at the Folger Theatre is the greatest ever seen —  or so said many in the audience of 1 Henry IV.
Ed Gero overwhelms as Sir John Falstaff, in a show that is filled with great actors playing great men. 
Prince Hal is a fun guy.  Avery Whitted in his DC theater debut looks every bit that he is having a joy of a ride hanging out with Falstaff as his mentor of a good time! 
Tyler Fauntleroy as Hotspur is Prince Hal’s match.  As Prince Hal steps up to his role of duties to his father and the kingdom so will it be that Hotspur  fall on the battlefield, the demise of his ambitions.  
Peter Crook as Henry IV is serious and worried.  Perhaps a bit of a stickler bore for a father, he is a true counter to Falstaff, both in their status in life and their approach to it, but both sharing a love of Prince Hal.    
The outstanding cast are  all leading stars in their own right: Mabound Ebrahimzadeh as Blunt and Mortimer, Naoimi Jacobson as the Percy family leader Worcester,  Kate Eastwood Norris as the bawdy Mistresss Quickly and Vernon.
Jordan Lee is the Lady Mortimer who speaks no English and her husband no Welsh but who sings a lovely song. Maribel Martinez is Lady Percy who does speak to no avail to keep her husband from going to war.
Todd Scofield as Westmoreland and Bardolph, Jazmine Stewart as Poins, U. Jonathan Toppo as Northumberland and Glendower, Alex Mitchell as Prince John and Gadshill, and Sam Midwood as Peto and Douglas  all join in multiple roles and  rousing battle scenes. 
There was something about the show, as it wiped away the centuries since it was first staged.  With minimal props—dramatic and efficiently employed but not so elaborate to detract attention—the show was all about the people in it,  their complexities not overshadowed by their costumes.  
1 Henry IV —alive and well and not to be missed— 
at  Folger Theatre  until Oct. 13, 2019

PHOTO CREDIT: Edward Gero as Falstaff  (photo by Brittany Diliberto).

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Lynn Nottage’s FABULATION 
OR, THE RE-EDUCATION OF UNDINE

Fables and fairy tales are supposed to end happily when the poor little girl meets a handsome prince who whirls her away to a magic kingdom etc.
Fabulation tells that story backwards.  
Felicia Curry is Undine, the princess at the top of her own public relation firms in Manhattan…She has it all!… until  one by one, the threads of this life start to unravel.  Her  husband has spent all her money and is wanted by the FBI.  Bankrupt and pregnant, she goes back to the only place left where she started with her family in Brooklyn.
At a fast clip,  a fine cast of actors  appear and re-appear, in different roles. 
Aakhu TuahNera Freeman is her doped up wheel chaired Grandma as well an inmate Undine shares a jail cell with after she is arrested for trying to buy Grandma some drugs on the street corner.
Roz White is her mother and also some of her girl friends.   William T. Newman, Jr is her father who keeps hoping  for his lucky break  —also a Yoruba Priest, who performs traditional rites.  
Kevin E. Thorne II wear uniforms —first  as FBI Agent Duval, and then as her brother Flow who works as a security guard and is writing a very long endless work about Brer Rabbit.  
 Lauryn Simone is Stephie her assistant,  whom she bossed around and later meets mopping the floor in a drug store. James Whalen is her accountant who recommends she sees that Yoruba Priest (who was his roommate in college),  and he is also a professor in rehab.  
The complicated stories of Undine’s  past deeds unfold, and are wound together with concept of Sankofa (“go back and fetch it” ),  the Yoruban Deity Elegba,  European  tales of the water nymph Undine,  a nod to Edith Wharton who named a character Undine, and African American folklore  of   Brer Rabbit. 
Deemed magical realism, Fabulation is filled with the  real magic of  humans. While the show elicits sparks of laughter, its message is quite serious. The lesson like any beloved tale, well worth repeating, in this show well worth seeing.
Oh yes, Carlos Saldana as Herve, her cheating husband who starts this story, will return at the end as Guy, whom she meets in rehab.  There will be a happy ending or maybe a new beginning!
AT MOSAIC THEATER COMPANY until  September 22, 2019


Wednesday, July 31, 2019


Till New York Musical Festival 2019
From left, Denielle Marie Gray, Tyla Collier, Taylor A. Blackman, Dwelvan David, Devin L. Roberts and Judith Franklin 
Credit  Russ Rowland

Till is a musical that never could have been made in 1955, the year that Emmett Till was brutally murdered in Mississippi. In the tradition of African American  musicals where the characters generally are featured in happy dancing moments of life, its horrific theme is rare.
Emmett Till is also unlike hundreds of  murdered African Americans preceding him  who mostly remain unknown.  Nor is he like those who would be murdered after him, like MLK Jr. and  Medgar Edgars,  leaders in the Civil Rights movement.
He was an ordinary fun loving boy never known to be in trouble, raised in Chicago by a single mother.  But he was also part of a larger family, those who had not migrated north for a new life, those who wanted him to come visit them in Mississippi, albeit a place with dangers that this young man was not able to truly comprehend.
This musical also differs from many others works about Emmett, in that the true hero that emerges is his mother Mamie Till.   Her failings in her life  and fears for his well being are the struggles of a great hero.   He will die but she will arise from her grief, determined that this  violent act will not be forgotten.
But now a few words about the outstanding cast who brought this to the stage at the New York Musical Festival.
Denielle Marie Gray is Emmett’s mother who is supported by Taylor A. Blackman as Emmett, and Judith Franklin as Alma, her mother/Emmett’s grandmother.
Every  great musical has an unforgetable song,  and   Gray’s rendition of  Cherish the Child,  places it with the great love ballads. 
She is well supported by  a cast who  move in and out of multiple roles and back and forth between Chicago and   Money, Miss.  When Tyla Collier and Devin L. Roberts portray the  sinister white couple, garbed in black half-masks and white gloves, they do not sing.  Dwelvan David plays the preacher who will lead the group through the tragedy to Till’s uncle who is helpless when Till is dragged away in the middle of the night.
The music from gospel church music  to traditional musicals is at once familar as it is somber, reflections of vivid emotions refashioned with freshness and vigor.
Till only tells part of the complicated history, but it nevertheless goes to the core.   A bit of research  revealed a quote by one of Till’s  murderers who was indicted but not convicted  and decades later sold his confessional story to a magazine for thousands of dollars. After a lifetime of bad luck on his part, and the permanence of Emmett place in history, he said  he wished Emmett would “just stay dead.”  
That is something that can not be,  not as long as there is theater to tell these stories.
At The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre 480 W. 42nd Street (from July 23 to 28, 2019)


Saturday, May 4, 2019


CRAZY FOR YOU

You will be crazy for the Heights Players after you see their energetic romantic musical production of Crazy For You.
George and Ira Gershwin wrote the music and the words, Ken Ludwig put it into a book, but the Heights Players bring it to life on stage!
Joe Bliss is Bobby Child, a rich New York banker who heads west to Deadrock, Nevada to close down a broken down theater.  Marissa Giglio is Polly Baker, the daughter of the theater owner who will  lose her heart to Bobby (well after a few mishaps) and  render the unforgettable ballad of love awakening, Someone to Watch Over Me
Joe and Marissa are true “triple threats”  They act, sing and dance their way through this show at the level of the best in regional theater.  Together they join in an unforgettable rendering of Embraceable You.
The multi-talented cast features Leah Elm as Irene, Bobby’s fancy, long-frustrated fiancée who toys with saloon owner Lank Hawkins played by Henry Ponthieu with her va-va-voom performance of  Naughty Baby.
When the Deadrock cowboys get their hopes dashed, along comes David Mackler and Michelle Kuchuk as the British travel guide writers Eugene and Patricia Fodor with advice to the small town to keep a Stiff Upper Lip.
For those who love tip top tap dancing, the Follies girls and Cowboys deliver  rousing numbers like  I Got Rhythm that will set your feet moving in this reminiscing of  great melodies.   
Comic stand outs include:  Frank Franconeri as the besotted Bela Zangler.  Frank gets a laugh every time he speaks.  His comic timing is impeccable.
Heights veteran performer and director Thomas J. Kane  captures  the pitiful character of Moose.
Middle school student and soon to be a star Gareth Hogan lights up the stage every time he makes an entrance.
The broadway quality pit orchestra consisting of Eric Wharton on acoustic bass,  Chris Cerreto on drums and led by asst. music director/conductor Emily Goggin keeps the show moving and the feet tapping both on stage and in the audience.
Kudos to Director James Martinelli, Music Director  David Fletcher, Asst. Music Director/Conductor Emily Goggin and Choreographers,  Frances Felske and Marianne O’Reilly.
WANT TO GO:  Crazy for You (to May 19, 2019)
WHERE:  26 Willow Place, Brooklyn Heights, NY 11201  - PHONE: 718-237-2752

WEB SITE: http://www.heightsplayers.org





Monday, April 29, 2019

THE WHITE SNAKE
The White Snake is the love story of a white snake with magical powers who turns into a mortal woman and comes down to earth from her thousand year home on a mountain top.  She meets and marries a humble pharmacist assistant and together they start a thriving herbal medicine business,  have a lovely home and are about to have their first child —all the ingredients of an ordinary happy life.  
Unbelievable as ancient epic legends go?   On stage at Constellation Theatre, Eunice Bae as the White Snake and Jacob Yeh as the humble XuXian bring the ancient Chinese legend to real life, where true love and devotion never get old.
Momo Nuakumura is Green Snake,  the White Snake’s faithful companion, who moves the story along to keep everything together while Ryan Sellers plays the vengeful nasty monk who seeks to tear the lovers apart.  
The production features multiple delights for the ears and eyes:  performance by Chinese dulcimer virtuoso Chao Tian,  sumptuous Chinese garments by costume designer Frank Laovitz,  captivating ensemble based-movements featuring a climatic sea battle complete with Cloud and Water spirits by choreographer Jennifer J. Hopkins  and endearing puppets designed by  Matthew Pauli. 
The stellar team of Allison Arkell Stockman as director of Mary Zimmerman adaptation of the ancient Chinese legend and world renowned Tom Teasley who composed the original music give this show its astronomical rating in the galaxy of Constellation hits. 
The White Snake  with its powerful message of transformation and transcendence through love runs to May 26, 2019 at Source, located at 1835 14th Street NW, Washington DC 20009. Tickets can be purchased online at www.ConstellationTheatre.org or over the phone at (202) 204-7741.
PHOTO CREDIT: AJGuban




Wednesday, March 27, 2019

A BRONX TALE
at National Theater
Name any of the top awards in American entertainment—Academy Award, Grammy, Oscar and Tony—and someone who was involved with creating  the story, music & lyrics and movie version for A Bronx Tale has won it.   
The musical version at the National Theatre was all high energy dancing and doo wop music, making this streetwise coming of age story great fun.  Set in the Bronx in the 1960s, the message is universal —that what is important in life is what we share as a family and love.  
The  opening night cast at National Theatre was super special  because —most unusual for a touring show—it features 11 alumni from the Broadway production. Joe Barbara (Sonny), Richard H. Blake (Lorenzo), Joey Barreiro (Calogero), Michelle Aravena (Rosina), Brianna-Marie Bell (Jane), Antonio Beverly (Tyrone), Frankie Leoni (Young Calogero), and Shane Pry (Young Calogero Alternate).
At The National Theatre, Washington DC
(one week only from March 26 through 31, 2019)